Melvin Calvin

Picture of Melvin Calvin

Date of Birth: 08/04/1911

Age: 65

Place of birth: St. Paul

Citizenship: United States


Support from the Rockefeller Foundation enabled K. post-doctoral research carried out in England, the University of Manchester, led by Professor of Physical Chemistry, Michael Polanyi, John Charles Polanyi father. Here K. studied paramagnetic hydrogen conversion and catalytic activity of metalloporphyrin - complex organic molecules containing metal atoms, which are derivatives of hemoglobin and chlorophyll. Back in 1937 in the United States, C. was appointed professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was researching the electronic nature of colored organic compounds under the direction of chemist Gilbert N. Lewis.

During the Second World War from 1941 K to 1944 he worked at the Research Council of National Defense, and in 1944 ... 1945. He took part in the Manhattan Project. During this period, the scientist has developed a method of producing pure oxygen atmosphere for its application in industry, for example in the implementation of the welding in places where it is impossible to control the oxygen.

In 1945, Karl returned to Berkeley adjunct professor, and two years later became a full professor. In 1946 he was appointed head of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and held this post until 1980. His research interests lie in the field of photosynthesis - a complex process in which green plants use the energy of sunlight, producing carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide gas and water. Despite the fact that the conditions necessary for photosynthesis, as well as its end products have been known since their discovery in 1772 by Joseph Priestley, intermediate reactions that occur during the process, remained unknown.

At the disposal of K. There were two new analytical method. The first consisted in the application of carbon-14 radioactive isotope of carbon, which, being assimilated by the plants can be easily detected in organic compounds. K. put the carbon dioxide containing carbon-14, in a round container made of thin glass (called candy because of its shape), which was filled with green algae Chlorella pirenoidosa, located in a suspended state. The vessel was covered so tracers algae and carbon dioxide interact to form a compound involved in photosynthesis.

To identify tracer K. applied another method - paper chromatography. In this method, developed by Archer Martin and Richard Singh, separation of the components in the mixture takes place due to the fact that they move in different solvents along strips of filter paper. Each component forms a spot at a suitable position of the strip, which can then be compared with the distribution of the spots left by conventional chemical reagents. To install the patches containing labeled carbon atoms, chromatography is used along with the X-ray film which darkens in the presence of any radioactivity. "Unfortunately, in this paper, is usually not imprinted title compounds - later recalled K., - our initial and tedious job for 10 years was to carefully mark the darkened locations on the film."

Through this work, K. and his associates have found that carbon dioxide initially reacts with ribulose diphosphate (compound whose molecule contains 5 carbon atoms) to form phosphoglyceric acid, which in the series of reactions is converted into fructose 6-phosphate and glucose-6- phosphate. Stages of the conversion of carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, called the Calvin cycle, carried out in chloroplasts - highly intracellular organelles of plant cells. Calvin cycle, which consists of "dark" reaction of photosynthesis is carried out thanks to a high-energy compounds such as adenosine triphosphate and reduced phosphate-nicotine amidadenin dinucleotide generated in the "light" reaction during which light is absorbed by chlorophyll molecules. With the help of radioactive isotopes K. also followed the path of oxygen in photosynthesis reactions.

In 1961, K. was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry `for the study of the assimilation of carbon dioxide by plants. " While K. was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry, his work is characterized by the interaction of scientific disciplines in its approach to chemistry, biology and physics, and he stressed the importance of this aspect in his Nobel lecture: "Chemical biodynamics, which implies the union of many scientific disciplines, still play a role in the decision this problem [problem of explaining the mechanism of chlorophyll participation in the transformation of light energy] as well as in its time it has contributed to the clarification of the carbon cycle. We can expect that it will occupy an increasingly important place in the understanding of the dynamics of living organisms at the molecular level. "

In 1963, K. was appointed Professor of Molecular Biology, University of California at Berkeley, and after 8 years - professor of chemistry. From 1960 to 1980 he worked as head of the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics, which conducted research on topics such as photosynthesis and the conversion of solar energy, radiation chemistry, brain chemistry, the molecular basis of knowledge and the origin of life on Earth. With the help of a cyclotron irradiated K. atoms of carbon dioxide and hydrogen are converted into amino acids and molecules of adenine; the latter is part of one of the nucleic acids. Finding tracers of organic matter in meteorites, he suggested the possibility of life elsewhere in the solar system.

The scientist takes part in many national and international committees that deal with the peaceful use of nuclear energy, molecular biopsy, science policy and national policies, as well as biokosmonavtikoy. He worked as a consultant at the National Aeronautics and space use.

In 1942, Karl married Marie Genevieve Zhemtegaard, employee patronage organization. The couple has two daughters and a son. K. - the holder of many honorary degrees. He was awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society (1964), Priestley Medal of the American Chemical Society (1978), Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists (1978), and the prize Ouespera the American Chemical Society (1981). K. - member of the Royal Society, the Netherlands Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society (of which he was president in 1971).